Livestock And Products Annual Report - India

India's 2010 buffalo meat production is forecast to increase by five per cent to 2.7 million tons due to the price competitiveness of Indian meat and expected sustained demand from meat-importing countries. Exports are expected to grow marginally, assuming no drop in demand from existing export markets due to the global recession. Summarised by the TheCattleSite junior editor, Charlotte Johnston.
calendar icon 16 December 2009
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USDA Foreign Agricultural Service


The national herd is forecast to fall to 281.1 million head, continuing the downward trend that has been seen for a number of years as drought conditions prevail in some areas. This fall is due to a declining dairy herd, as buffalo production increases in popularity due to lower maintenance costs and their diversity.

Buffalo milk is high in fat, which attracts a premium in the Indian market. Their carcases have less fat and bone, but a higher proportion of muscle.

As well as this, there is favourable export demand, due to the cost competitiveness and lean meat. It is estimated that India has 57 per cent of the world's buffalo population.

Buffalo meat production is forecast to grow by five per cent in 2010, it is also predicted that buffalo meat production has increased five per cent this year (2009).

Out of the total production of coarse grains (maize, bajra, sorghum, millet etc.); about 10 per cent is currently utilised for livestock feeds. As the prices of grain increase steadily, livestock production costs may increase if current conditions persist. Some small and marginal farmers may also resort to distress sales of animals, leading to longer term supply concerns.

Production policy

Previous production policies have been largely based on dairy development, however things are changing. The Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MFPI) has proposed a “Grant in Aid” scheme for the modernisation of abattoirs, to be completed by 2012. As well as this, a National Meat and Poultry Processing Board (NMPPB) was launched in February 2009. The board will initially be funded by the government for the first two years and will later be managed by the industry. Its objective is to regulate and promote the meat industry. A programme 'Salvaging and Rearing of Male Buffalo Calves', with the purpose of increasing meat production has had a $250 million financial layout proposed.

Livestock trading in India is done in state government regulated livestock markets. The processed meat sector, formerly regulated by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOFPI), is now regulated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regulates both domestic production and importation of meat and meat products. The export of raw meat (frozen/chilled) is regulated by Raw Meat (Quality Control and Inspection) Rules, 1992.


Buffalo meat consumption is forecast to have increased by six per cent throughout 2009 to 2.1 million tons, again due to its cost effectiveness. Annual per capita buffalo meat consumption is estimated at 2 kilograms, however there is a cultural difference in India regarding categorical meat consumption patterns. It is estimated that about 20 per cent of the population are vegetarian.

According to the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, processing levels in buffalo meat (20 per cent) and poultry (6 per cent) are quite low as compared to most developed countries. Indian consumers prefer to buy fresh meat from wet markets for further processing at home. Meat from buffaloes is primarily processed for exports. India has a total meat processing capacity of over one million MT per annum out of which 40 to 50 per cent is actually utilised. The lack of sufficient cold chain infrastructure is one of the constraints to processing.



Buffalo meat exports are expected to grow marginally in 2010, assuming demand exists. Exports for 2009 are expected to remain much the same as last year due to the global economic recession, restrictive trade policies, and changing market conditions.

However, exporters are confident that demand will continue for buffalo exports as the meat from India is very cost competitive in international markets.

Indian buffalo meat is exported to more than 60 countries. Prominent among these are emerging markets in Africa (Angola, Congo, Cote D. Ivories, Gabon, Ghana etc.), CIS (Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan), and traditional markets such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and the Middle East. Exporters are also working to gain market access in countries like Russia and Indonesia.

Over 90 per cent of buffalo meat exports are boneless and the balance is shipped as carcases. The buffalo meat share in India is more than 90 per cent. India's total export earnings during IFY 2007/08 were around two billion dollars from livestock and poultry products and 1.8 billion dollars from marine products.

Trade policy

Current Government Of India (GOI) regulations prohibit imports of live animals as well as poultry, ovine, caprine and swine meat and meat products from the United States. Bovine germplasm from the United States also has limited market access.

The Livestock Importation Act, 1898 regulates the importation of livestock and livestock products.

Germplasm Trade Regulations
The final import protocol including the procedures and conditions stipulated by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) for bovine semen was released on September 5, 2007. The MOA has also prepared guidelines for the import and export of bovine germplasm to ensure that a regulatory procedure is set up for processing received import and export applications. These regulations were revised in July 2009 to allow for the import of sexed semen, young bulls, and early pregnant heifers according to their specified import requirements.

It is estimated that around 70-75 per cent of the indigenous cattle and buffalo population cannot be categorized under any well-defined breed and their milk yields are much lower than any pure dairy breed available in India. Additionally, the productivity level of most defined indigenous breeds is less than 1,000 kgs per head. Therefore, the GOI is developing policies in favor of new breeding programs and of an organized artificial insemination breeding network. This effort is expected to lead to increased demand for non-native germplasm for producing quality crossbred animals.

December 2009

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